Murdock has a book club three times a year - spring, summer, and fall - in which a book is selected for the whole office to read and then discuss. The book we selected for this Spring was Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. This novel is world-renowned and considered one of the top 100 novels of the century. Achebe weaves two harmonizing stories which both give insight to the culture of Nigeria. The first tells of the main character, Okonkwo, and his life in which he is committed to becoming the most powerful warrior and leader in his tribe. The second story complicates the plot as European missionaries arrive in the village and begin to intrude on the Nigerian's set way of life. New ideas are introduced, rituals are questioned, families turn on one another, and things begin to fall apart - all because neither of the cultures try to understand each other or simply become friends:
...he does not understand our customs, just as we do not understand his. We say he is foolish because he does not know our ways, and perhaps he says we are foolish because we do not know his.How often we become set in our ways and refuse to see other people's perspective. Why do we always assume that the way we do things is right and the way other people do things is wrong? Why do we try to change other people but aren't open to being changed? If only we could put our own selfish agenda aside and just love our neighbors.
Book Club Lunch
By the way, this was the staff lunch for which I chose the menu (since I dominated the NCAA bracket challenge and all). So while in the Pacific Northwest discussing the African culture, we enjoyed a delicious Mexican meal including enchiladas, chile poblanos, beans and rice, legitamit queso, and a sinful flourless chocolate torte. Yes, we are very culturally rounded.